Introduction. A Brief History of Cooperation. Cooperation in the Western World agricultural cooperation, has been introduced to facilitate this develop-.
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This study is based partly on experiences from the author’s field research in Egypt and Jordan, and partly on a literature review. Written sources are in various European languages. Quotations from non-English sources have been translated by the author. ISSN 0080-6714 ISBN 91-7106-300-5 O The author and the Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, 1990 Printed in Sweden by Motala Grafiska, Motala 1990
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Contents 1. Aim and Scope of the Study Introduction Objectives Perspectives in Cooperative Research A Note on Development Perspective of the Present Study 2. Cooperation and Development Introduction A Brief History of Cooperation Cooperation in the Western World Cooperation in Socialist States Early Cooperative Experiences in the Third World ‘Schools’ and Principles of Cooperation Transferability of Cooperative Ideology Expectations on Cooperatives as Agents of Change Criticism of Cooperation and Some Comments on the Critique Cooperatives Bring no Structural Change Cooperatives do not Benefit the Poor Bad Management Government Interference and Hidden Objectives Concluding Remarks on the Critique of Cooperatives 3. Overdevelopment and Centralization of the Third World State Introduction Emergence of the Centralized State State and Class in the Third World Cooperation and Decentralization 4. Summary and Concluding Remarks on the Possibilities for Cooperation and Development 67 Geographical Implications of Organization Building 67 Cooperation Revisited 70 Cooperation and Development Reconsidered 72 Conclusions 76 References 78
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1. Aim and Scope of the Study Cooperation is not an aid-giving business. A.F. Laidlaw Irrtroduction Many recipes have been presented to overcome the unsatisfactory situation of the Third World. One of the most widely implemented efforts to speed up development is to organize people in rural cooperative societies. This, however, can be (and has been) done in a great number of ways, from highly diverging starting points, and with very different assumptions about ambitions and possibilities of actors involved. Cooperation has faced renewed actuality as change agent and develop- ment motor during the last decade’s reorientation of development theory (and, to some extent, of practice) towards decentralization, self-help and development ‘from below’. An enhanced importance of cooperatives should be based on comprehensive, empirical studies of their potentials, constraints and prerequisites in different settings. So far, to my know – ledge, this has not been done. What can be found is instead a mass of co- operative case studies, policy papers, etc. which, together with other studies, may be used to analyze cooperative experiences and to determine the necessary preconditions for cooperative success. Experiences from, and expectations on, cooperatives vary and the roles of cooperatives as tools for development naturally differ. This is no wonder since the conditions under which Africa’s peasants must toil, and the problems they face, differ greatly, from fully irrigated agriculture ir? the Nile valley to seasonal dry farming, shifting cultivation for subsistence needs, and export oriented plantations in sub -Saharan Africa. Some even stress that peasants’ conditions and problems are “as varied, complex and enormous as the continent itself’ (Haque F, 1988, p 17). Consequently, it is sometimes argued that any generalization of relations between formal co- operatives and African local communities should be avoided (Hedlund H, 1986). Others go even further, saying that it would be meaningless to try to generalize African cooperative experiences (StAhl I, 1988). No doubt, local variations exist but certain regularities are never theless observable. It is the purpose of this study to investigate these regularities and possibly to explain them.
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Immanence. The criteria used are “internal” to the policy or institution itself, i.e. its stated objectives. Organizational self-evaluation=immanent criticism. Transcendence. An “external” approach that takes its criteria independently of the policy/institution evaluated, without any necessary or overriding reference to the institution’s self -conception or implied criteria. Instrumentalism. Treats particular activities and measures simply as means towards some more general ends; ends without reference to features of particular means. An instrumentalist approach asks rather “wether” than “how”. Essential ism. Contains a particular, usually positive, commitment concerning the matter being evaluated. It tends to advocate a policy/ institution rather than to analyze it critically. Thereby, it is prejudiced and unscientific. Following Apthorpe and Gasperl, instrumentalism’s detachment from particular means leads to a willingness to entertain considerations about, and to be open to, the adoption of a variety of means, including different means in different circumstances -thus, it tends towards situationalism. The danger here, the writers argue, is that everything becomes merely a means towards remote and insufficiently examined abstract ends. With instrumentalism it can be the goals rather than the means to attain them which tend to be seen as not requiring much defence or even close examination. (But what if the ends are thoroughly analyzed and well understood?). With essentialism the commitment to the valued proper and essential form of the policy or institution is likely to result in the ostensible means being treated this way, the means and the ends having been united in the “true” form of the policy or institution. Essentialism tends to treat unsuccessful examples of the policy/ institution it advocates as not being “true” examples. If institutions created to speed up development fail to do this, the recommended ‘cure’ is often more of the same, rather than change of approach. Apthorpe and Gasper reject the transcendent approach because it may take its (external) criteria from a general theory of history which may have been unknown altogether to the policymakers or institution-builders concerned, or from an ideology which would be foreign or hostile to those making and implementing the policy under review. Therefore, it is ‘unfair’ and should be avoided. (Obviously, a transcendent approach can easily become essentialistic. This, however, cannot be a sufficient reason to reject the transcendent approach per se. On the contrary, it represents ‘standard While the two writers choose one of these approaches as the only “proper” one and dismiss the others, there are obviously limitations and dangers involved in all of them. 7
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procedure’ in science, i.e. a phenomenon/policy/institution is analyzed in the light of, and compared to, a hypothesis or theory about the ‘state of things’. The outcome may be a change of theory or of the institution/ policy under study, or both). The transcendent approach is then contrasted with the immanent approach to cooperative study. While an essentialist approach can sometimes be seen as an extreme form of immanence, the strength of immanence, Apthorpe and Gasper argue, is derived from the fact that it takes its point of departure in the stated objectives of the policy/ institution investigated. Immanence, they say, is an invaluable tool in identifying bias, since it means examining the consistency and coherence of a position in its own terms. An immanent approach, thus, asks: Which are the stated objectives? To what degree have they been attained? Why, why not? (Ideally, an immanent approach also asks: Which are the alternatives? How have they performed? Which are their degrees of goal-attainment?) Apthorpe, who was CO-director of the UNRISD-studies which came out as very critical of the performance-and even the suitability-of cooperatives in the Third World (chapter two), maintains (together with Gasper) that the UNRISD-studies were based on an immanent approach, which, he sais, made these studies more scientific than many other studies of cooperation and development. That, however, is only partially correct. While Apthorpe and Gasper underline that “a non-essentialist approach looks at alternatives”, they admit that the UNRISD-reports “lacked extensive and direct comparisons of cooperatives with other institutional approaches to rural development “. Thus, they only went half-way. While the UNRISD studies have been subject to massive critique, much of which Apthorpe and Gasper rightly dismiss as essentialistic lamen – tation (see chapter two), there are a number of dangers involved when a strictly immanent approach is applied. First, all goal-fulfilment evaluation necessarily tends to be biased and produce more or less disappointing results in so far as it is likely that stated objectives will only be partially realized. When the object of inves- tigation is a matter as complicated as developmen t-realiza tion, this tendency is dramatically accentuated. This bias may be tuned down if alternative policies/institutions are investigated in the same place and at the same time from an immanent approach as well-but the bias remains. Second, while an immanent approach may answer the question “if’ and establish some degree of goal-attainment, it does not necessarily reveal “why” stated objectives have not been attained (if that is the case), nor why development has become what it has actually become. Immanence, thus, is too narrow and only insofar as the reasons for success or failure are internal to the organization will an immanent approach suffice. In most cases, to answer such questions, other approaches will be needed which take exogenous factors into consideration. To compare with alterna – tives can help but it is not enough.
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Third, stated objectives are not always immanent objectives. With cooperatives it is often the case that their goals and roles have been determined by external actors, usually the state and international aid- agencies, and then they have been superimposed on local societies. These stated goals may conflict with goals desired by members. Apthorpe and Gasper state that the UNRISD-studies “adopted the goals proclaimed by the movements themselves as criteria1′ but then they go on to say: “how it was that these goals came to be proclaimed is of course an important ques- tion”. It is indeed. But to answer that question it will again be necessary to transcend the immanent approach and to look outside the organization/ institution in question. Fourth, there is also a conflict between declared and undeclared objectives in policy/institution-evaluation. Development in general and, particularly, the building of development institutions are highly political matters. In the case of cooperatives, goals have generally been set by governments but at times the government’s ‘hidden objectives’ may be as strong as-or even stronger than-the stated objectives. This makes investigations of the fulfilment of only stated goals rather obscure. Con- sequently, the goal-setter itself (its nature, aims and options) must be analyzed and ‘hidden objectives1 must be explicitly searched for. Thus, strict adherence to an immanent approach comes out as rather reductionist and, in many cases, will neither answer the questions “why”, nor “whereto”, which are so essential in development research. Clearly, it will be impossible to fully explain cooperative performance by solely looking at intra-organizational factors. Cooperatives must be seen in a broader societal framework and in the light of involved actors’ interests, positions, resources and restrictions-i.e. from a holistic and transdisciplinary perspective. Furthermore, realizing the political aspects of the building of development-organizations: political phenomena can best be understood in terms of the total cultural and historical- matrix in which they are set [i.e. within1 an explicit interdisciplinary perspective (Baker RW, 1978, p ix). To understand the roles, performances, impacts and potentials of coop- eratives (or of any other institution) as development instruments, it is essential that the study goes beyond the immediate focus for investigation. Nothing takes place in isolation and cooperatives are certainly not built in a vacuum. Without explicitly relating them to a wider context, analysis will be of limited value. The need to apply a broader, interdisciplinary perspective is further accentuated by the very complexity of the develop – ment process itself.
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A Note on Development ‘Development’ has many connotations and maybe as many definitions as there are writers on the subject. Usually, it has been associated with economic growth and diffusion of innovations. It has been called ‘modern- ization’ which, generally, means westernization. Development has been understood as spatial reorganization and as progressive distribution of the good things in life. Development contains all these aspects, but also many others. Eric Jacoby reminds us that ‘development’ is not homogenous and balanced, it is not necessarily “development” in any progressive meaning, as professional development theorists like to prove. It is always painful, associated with deteriorating quality of life for large parts of the population, even if it, in a longer perspective, may imply progress for the majority of the people. But the transformation-process is always connected to a re-formulation of values and beliefs (Jacoby E, 1983, p 181). In essence, development is a conflict-ridden transition of society from one social system and one mode of production to another, and as such it represents a period of anomaly2 without given rules. Development, then, does not simply mean “change”, “growth”, or increased “efficiency” (efficient for whom?), even if that is its aim. It is a complex and, in part, frustrating process which can not be expected to come about smoothly and without opposition (especially not when implemented and ‘controlled’ from above and outside). It is widely recognized that man always, as far as possible, has tried to survive and shape his life according to those experiences that has proved to be most effective. When, for example, food shortages occur, the known mode of production is intensified and not until conditions for life are seriously and permanently deteriorating is he prepared to examine new ways to organize life and production. Karl Marx has shown that a mode of production is not abandoned until its inherent contradictions become so strong that they overwhelm the system and lead to a crisis. Then a new ‘progressive’ class, representing a more effective resource allocation, takes possession of power, a new era emerges and a new moral order comes into existence (Marx K, edn 1974). Ester Boserup has shown that African subsistence farmers alter production techniques, settlement patterns, etc. in response to augmenting population pressure and deteriorating levels of food production per capita, i.e. as a response to a crisis and not because they vision or have heard about %etter’ lifestyles (Boserup E, 1965). It is perfectly natural that Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) wrote about anomaly at the time when he did. 19th century Europe was passing through a period when old norms and value-systems were disintegrating while no other system had yet emerged in their place.
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